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tv   [untitled]    April 30, 2013 2:30am-3:01am PDT

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current mental health system is based on crisis management. from what i have seen with people like my son and people that can't recognize their illness and aren't willing to take their medication, it just does not work. too many of our mentally ill end up on the streets and in the criminal justice system. these are pictures of my son and another mother's son. we wanted to share with you so you can have an insight to our lives and our sons lives. my son could have never harmed anybody. the other son has lived on the streets for four years now. this mom
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told me when he was firstborn how beautiful he was. he was a 4.0 student, he was extremely bright and invited to all the top schools. he now lives in city parks and on the street. both of our families tried desperately to help our sons to try to prevent this. we could not. our son first became ill after high school. he was supposed to go to college like many other people's kids an then he had his first psychotic break. we could not get any help for him. when a person is left to decompensate to the point where they can not
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eat because they fear their food is poison or when they can't go outside because they think people are following them everywhere. when they can't sleep because they are hearing voices and the delusions in their mind, we owe it to them and to intervene to help. there is nothing civil about letting somebody without their right mind decompensate to the to point that they lose their lives and sometimes other people lose their lives. our mother recently had called me and said that her son had been on the streets because he also left their house and the police called her first thing in the morning. she hadn't seen him in a long time and he had paranoid schizophrenia. they
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said your son is in the hospital. we arrested him on a 51/50. he was walking naked in the street in the middle of the night talking to himself. the mother and father jumped in the car and went to the emergency room and by the time they got there, the hospital had released him. i don't understand this. it's just, you know, i'm not a lawyer and i wasn't in the mental health field before, i just, i don't understand it. the qualifications and criteria for a holder extreme and they are unrealistic. a person much be imminently danger to self or others or gravely disabled before they are picked up. if your shelter is under a freeway, if he knows of a
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garbage can that he can frequent, he's not gravely disabled. i'm told. if your son threatens you because his mind is telling him that you poisoned him and the police come and take your son to the hospital, it's likely that if he can present himself in a reason manner because many people with mental illness can, they will release him. and this happens over and over and over again. we all know about the revolving doors. it's costly. if you want to look at money, but i'm here because i'm talking about lives. i don't think, i'm just, you know, it's very hard and we
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knew nothing about mental illness about this, but i will not stop fighting for my son, i won't stop fighting for others and i am going to scream and shout and share until somebody hears. that's all. >> [ applause ] >> thank you. let's get another perspective on this from eduardo very big vega. you have been forthright to discussions about treatment and in your chronicle about laura's law that you think the need to help the vast majority of people who do want treatments. but aren't there cases as we
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are hearing today that force treatment is necessary? >> well, so i have been working in mental health field for about 22 years various places across the country. i have worked in crisis programs here and in new york city and pretty much ever phase of program there is. i have been a suicide prevention interventionist, i guess after this, the one thing i want to say that force is not treatment. one thing that we have learned in the community mental health system which was set up in the 60s partly to answer the need for social justice around mental health is that people respond to dignity and fair treatment. and the -- as an example of the -- i think
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that the psych so physiology is that it's still very coneject ral. that doesn't really matter. the one thing that i have realized in working with people in all sorts of states, regardless of what you call their state, they respond to, if you treat them with love, with kindness, and compassion. and unfortunately, whether or not i think that as an example, the mental health association and generally mental health associations across the country we do not advocate against services. i want to point out that what is called outpatient treatment. the part that we have a concern about is what the technical issue of involuntary outpatient commitment, a o c different terms relate to the model of
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the laws of the program. we feel that we've seen throughout the community mental health movement across the world is that the right kinds of services and support can reach the vast majority of people even people that are very ill on an on going basis. there are countries in which there is virtually no involuntary treatment at all or involuntary process and some that are very successful. so we feel that there is a lot to be done. it is true and i totally agree with miss dewint, we do not have what we need. we don't have the range of services, we don't have the range of skilled providers, and we need to do more. but, do we need another process for taking away people's civil liberties when
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we already have one. there is a process under the act that is set up to protect people's civil rights. one of the things in 1421 that hasn't been i am mplemented in the counties, the real issues as a matter of course is what is the process for hospitalization under the enforcement. under this program, if someone misses a doctors appointment, they can call the police to take them to the upon the hospital for an evaluation. you might say there is something about that. but whe we see people's interaction
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for service, when they see police and someone upfront, as a criminal or someone to be weary of or suspicious of or to the fact of a lesser member of society, when people have that experience, and it doesn't matter how many psychotic symptoms they have, they push back. that's our human nature. what i have seen in new york. that's very relevant. other ill leave with you this. i was a social worker working in new york, i was very enthusiastic about my job in the homeless outreach program and our program was specifically to reach out to people who are
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clearly living on the streets and our program was in the western part of harlem. we would bring people sandwiches and we developed relationships with people. one of the things that would happen wins once in a while we would talk to somebody, and we think we know that guy, his name is george. i would say george, how are you doing, would you like a sandwich. he runs the other way because he's had interaction with us before who the sandwich was an entry to getting them locked up for 6 months and whether or not you think that people living on the streets were you consider that a life, those people do consider it their life. so we feel that
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there absolutely needs to be more services for all levels. we do not feel that we need a coneject ral and problematic extra involuntary process in california and certainly not in san francisco. >> thank you. [ applause ] . i know we are going to be -- this hearing and discussing a lot more about outpatient mental health treatment but let's take a moment to hear from danny mcclaegen from san diego. tell us about the program. is it working? >> let me tell you what the program is about. it's a program where people are convicted for drink in public 5 or more times or arrested and held and if they are convicted for the crime in public. if you
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see it like a drug court model, that's how it works. so if we want to talk about is it successful, we can throw out a number of definitions for that. we know that drunk in public arrest are down 77 percent in san diego. that's good for you and we can talk about health care cost have been reduced by $73,000 a month on health care for people picked up by paramedics and drunk in public and hospitals. i think that's good. i know in my program that 70 percent of people that enter the program complete a program and graduate and are 80 percent of employed and housed at the end of the program. we think that's good. and there are serial neeb rate programs
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across the united states. we have a call from ireland and alaska which begs the question how can you be homeless in alaska? but there are. if i were brought to a conference for the police, we'd have a very different point of view. if i was at a conference for the district attorney we might have a different point of view . the nice thing about this program is we are going to have a job. the police are going to arrest these. the attorneys are going to prosecute their cases and the public defenders is going to defend their client and everybody gets to do their job.
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they are going to do it legally, ethically, but we ask more that they do it morally. so, if i'm walking down the street and i'm pulling my dog's chain or i leave my dog outside in the cold and i don't feed it and it has health problems or i kick it and make fun of it and treat it harshly, you can arrest me. but i can do that to a person and you think it's okay. i don't think it's okay. jeff got me on the phone and said i want to know more about the program and i talked to him and said this is how it works and he said what's the biggest barrier? i said we have trouble making people understand how to better treat their clients. i'm a huge fan
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and knowing what we need to do is to make sure those people that need help get the help they want. our clients are offered treatment and across the board every single person arrested for that are offered services an they all get help. everyone of them gets help. and my outcomes show that they benefit from that. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> you were a substance treatment expert for the medical center. i understand there is some promising new treatments about alcohol that maybe on the horizon. tell us about that. >> as far as treatment for alcoholism, the first things to consider is how somebody gets into treatment in the first
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place. there is 4 l's, liver, livelihood, lover or the law. those 4 things. liver, livelihood, lover and law. within those l's is when somebody shows up in my door, someone suffering, a family member suffering who brings somebody in. when it company ms to treat we know there is different types of treatment, there is evidence base treatment. there is good evidence for it, we do it. there is evidence free treatment, there is no evidence whatsoever and there is evidence proof treatment. one of those evidence proof treatment is incarceration treatment. there was an office inspection in general report
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and eventually matt case became supervisor for it. i have been involved in other places. treatment in custody doesn't work. flash incarceration does not work. as far as the treatment that do work for alcoholism, alcoholism is a chronic disease like diabetes. hypertension and emphysema. when we look at outcomes for chronic disease, a landmark study for the journal medical association in 1999, showed that results for treatments were no worse or better than any other chronic disease model. so treatment of alcoholism and addiction works.
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as far as new treatments for alcoholism, when it comes to substance abuse treatment, typically with any chronic disease it takes time and effort. let me give you a picture two of extremes. one extreme is the first of the month with $200 in your pocket and you are in tenderloin and the other extreme is the stationery outcome with handcuffs. so the illustration here is that somewhere between these two extremes, there is a level of treatment structure that is appropriate for the particular patient. when we think about the patients who end up in the revolving court's, they have trauma, bad thing that have happened to them and they have no support
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and they have gotten no lover to support them, no livelihood to live for. what you need to do is provide an adequate amount of support to help them achieve the goals they want. notice i didn't say sobriety. i'm a substance abuse expert that doesn't believe in sobriety. the goal is to say what are we going to work on here? i want to is stop being arrested by the cops? >> okay. that's a goal. how do we achieve that? >> want a roof over my head. i
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have yet to have a patient walk through my door, and say i have need help. i have not have that happen before. i have seen thousands of patients. there are potential medications that may offer promise for managing. managing chronic alcoholism. i know the cities are pursuing some of the those medications. they are expensive but at the same time if i can offer someone an injection that
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perhaps may not be as drunk anymore, most people will think about giving it a try. there are various types of treatment protocols coming up and those show promises as well. in the end it has to do with time and effort. those are the thing that really there is nothing new in addiction that is that magical that will change what i do >> thank you. [ applause ] >> last we want to hear from the police chief in san francisco. likely your officers end up in the front lines with these people who need services. what's working out there and what is not working and what tools you need to do the job?
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>> it's kind of ironic that we are going last because we are first in dealing with people with crisis and i can remember back when i was brand new back in 1981. there were folks in alley ways, one comes to mind his name was bobby, you wouldn't even recognize him from the time you would initially contact him to the time he would get out after a 90 day hold for court. you don't have that anymore. the answer can't be to do nothing. so as police officers here in san francisco there is a myriad of options that officers go through whether it's 51/50
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where people are danger to themselves or to others, door alleys, i know there are some mental health professionals who work closely with our program. we are trying not to get folks into custody. dr. mcglaegen, when we like restaurants, it's no fun arresting a drunk. there is a huge range. but again, with the city of san francisco, you have to do something. when you have people that is certain unimaginable. they can't make the call. they would help themselves if they could but they can't. so in talking about the san diego sip program which i know our mayor is in favor of and we are going to try to do
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it in this city and we have talked to them about the work they do with dr. mcglaegen, if we can get it going and have them stop this. if you can't, you get 30 days, but you have to pick it or it gets picked for you if you can't pick. on the high side, jail is not something we want to talk about for people in crisis, the poison doesn't go in their arm, the poison doesn't go in their mouth. they get clean clothes. yeah, we didn't have the programs and services we have
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now, you go see them when you are putting more serious criminals in jail for real criminal violations versus these are just holding periods to get the person a break if you will from harming themselves to get to a point where they could select some of the options that are here up on the table. we are not talking about moss months and years. it takes literally an act of god to get a conservatorship on someone. it does not happen in san francisco. there are people in san francisco that desperately need to be in conservatorship. we don't do it here in san francisco, but we should. it's the kind and compassionate thing to do for some people that are at that state of crisis where they can
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harm themselves or someone else's. i don't think there is people in support of the death penalty, but that's the penalty you are sending these folks to. >> thank you. [ applause ] . the panelist have really given us a terrific overview of different perspectives on this and we are going to get to audience questions in just a few minutes. go ahead and fill out your carts and we'll get to you momentarily. let me start by opening the discussion. i want to start with you kenny dwight and ask about something eduardo vega that said that force is not treatment. that basically the key is to approach people with mental illness with love, kindness and compassion. i know from our editorial page that when we
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have written about laura's law that some of the post poignant arguments from family members that they have done everything they can do but don't know how to help a loved one. what would you have done? could force treatment made a difference? >> yes. absolutely. laura's law is not forced treatment. i don't know why mr. vega keeps using that word because laura's law is an upfront tool before somebody needs crisis. if they are proven to be a danger to themselves or someone else, a judge tries to get a treatment team and they try to talk with this person and figure out a way for them to stay out of the
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hospital. we have forced treatment, we have 51/50. my son has been through 51/50 numerous times. he's been slammed with this. this is a horrible experience. laura's law is a tool, only a tool that may help. for whoever can help, and thank god they don't to have go through the other part. i would say the same thing as this officer said is that some people can't help themselves. the not civil to sit here and watch people lose their lives. i can tell you that. i have been in groups for 4-and-a-half years. i have heard many family members. their children are
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losing their lives, families are in severe stress. we have to find something else. not our 51/50, not our 52/50s. we are waiting for people in crisis before we do it. thank you, eduardo i want to give you a chance to elaborate on it. we heard basically that one of the basic symptoms of a person with severe illness is that they can't recognize that they are mentally ill. how do you deal with that when you approach someone that they don't think they are sick? >> let me reframe it. what do you do about, if i asked you if you were mentally ill and you say no


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